Coast Guard crews interdict $2 million worth drugs south of Cuba

America's Heartland Coast Guard NewsHOUSTON — Galveston based Coast Guard crews helped interdict more than $2 million worth of marijuana aboard a drug-smuggling speed boat between the coasts of Haiti and Cuba, Aug. 13.

The Coast Guard utilized multiple assets during this drug interdiction. In addition to the Galveston based Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless, the Coast Guard coordinated the use of the Port Canaveral based Coast Guard Cutter Confidence and an HC-144 Ocean sentry aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami.

The Ocean Sentry aircrew located a white-hulled, speed boat with three outboard engines, drifting in the water south of Cuba, and directed the Dauntless and Confidence to its location.

While the cutters were closing in on the speed boat from opposite directions, they deployed law enforcement crews aboard small boats from each cutter.

The speed boat crew fled and threw bales of marijuana overboard as the law enforcement crews closed in. The Dauntless’ law enforcement crew recovered the marijuana floating in the water, while the Confidence’s law enforcement crew continued the chase. The Confidence’s law enforcement crew was able to overtake the speed boat and detain the drug smugglers that were aboard.

Crewmembers from both cutters seized more than 2,240 pounds of marijuana, which has an estimated street value of $2,036,215.

“The textbook coordination, execution, and prosecution of a marijuana-laden speed vessel by Coast Guard Cutters and Aircraft truly was a great thing to see,” said Cmdr. John Pruitt III, the commanding officer of the Dauntless. “Training and standardization truly proved the day.”

The Dauntless, a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter with an 80 person crew, has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s premier “drug busters.” The Dauntless became the first cutter in history to seize one million pounds of marijuana. During its Coast Guard career, the Dauntless has had more than 90 illegal narcotics busts, more than any other Coast Guard cutter. In addition to drug interdiction the cutter participates in search and rescue and other Coast Guard missions.

The 44-year-old Dauntless and the other medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by an offshore patrol cutter. The new OPCs will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests. The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace.

For more than 220 years, the U.S. Coast Guard has safeguarded America’s maritime interests – at home and around the world – saving those in peril, defending our maritime border, and protecting the marine transportation system, natural resources and the maritime environment.

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